As a kid growing up on the Pacific Coast I remember seeing mussels attached to the rocks in the tidal pools and piers at low tide. I had an uncle that would sometimes gather them in season making sure to avoid the months when the Red Tide, a part of the year that makes these tasty mussels so toxic that they could make you sick or possibly kill you. I don’t remember my uncle ever serving me any. I think he perhaps kept them for himself because they were so delicious.
Today I usually find my mussels at the local fish market. Here in New York we almost always get our mussels from the pristine waters of Prince Edward Island (PEI).
This recipe is pretty easy and it’s something you could put together in an hour’s time if you’re looking to quickly impress someone. Trust your senses with this dish and you should achieve great tasting results.
Steamed Mussels in Beer
First take a colander and place it in your sink. Place the mussels in the colander and run some cold water over the mussels to rinse them. I pull the little beards (the little hairy part that you will see hanging off of some of the shells) off of the mussels and inspect them for broken shells, dirt and debris. Here is where I smell them. I make sure that I am aware of what I’m eating and I take note on what I’m seeing. It’s important to learn from your experience what is a good mussel dish and what is a great mussel dish and you will learn this by smelling, seeing and examining your ingredients for the best results.
Turn your pot onto medium high. I first add the olive oil and butter to a large hot heavy pot big enough for the mussels to move around. Make sure to not burn the oil and butter! Add the carrots, celery, and onions and lower to medium. Add a light pinch of salt (not too much because the mussels are are already salty) and pepper to the pot. Cook until these vegetables get translucent but not too long! You want to lean on the side of under cooked for these vegetables to give flavor and texture to your dish. Add your garlic to the onions, celery, and carrots just before they start to get translucent (about 10 minutes) and cook for about 3 minutes more. Be careful not to burn the garlic because it will make a strong bitter flavor. Next add the tomatoes and then a pinch of paprika. Add the mussels to the pot and give it a stir to coat it with the rest of ingredients. Pour the beer into the pot and turn your pot onto medium high and cover it. Wait for about 3 minutes and give it a second stir. Cover the pot again and wait for another 4 minutes or until the shells have opened then pull the pot off the heat and serve the mussels in a bowl and add the broth.
You can add more lemon and hot pepper and cracked black pepper to taste.
Serve with a baguette or any rustic bread.
Mussels steamed in beer for two people.
2 pounds of mussels (I usually purchase them by the bag)
1 small bottle of beer or a large bottle for drinking later. You can experiment with different kinds of beer but I prefer the lighter flavored ones.
2 small tomatoes when in season (diced) or a small can of stewed tomatoes.
1 medium onion (diced)
2 small carrots (diced)
1 small celery stalk (diced)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 garlic cloves (diced)
1 tablespoon of butter (I sometimes don’t use butter because I like this dish lighter in flavor and I think that the mussels are flavorful enough)
cracked black pepper to taste
hot pepper flakes to taste
lemon or lime
a pinch of paprika
chopped cilantro or sprigs of cilantro to garnish
lemons or limes to garnish